CCSD21 approves contract with WANRack for private fiber wide area network solution, services

February 26, 2024

Topic: Updates

The Community Consolidated School District 21 Board of Education on Thursday, Feb. 22, formally approved a contract with WANRack for a private fiber wide area network solution and services.

The district’s current WAN contract was coming up for renewal, and as such sought bids and proposals for future fiber solutions and services through the E-Rate process.

“CCSD21 always strives to provide a fast, scalable, and secure fiber network to ensure a quality digital environment for student learning,” said Mike Frantini, chief technology officer. “It is extremely important that proper up-to-date infrastructure be in place, and that future district vision and goals are considered when designing and maintaining network backbone and infrastructure. With expansion technology across the board, and the increased reliance on web applications and access to the Internet, it is extremely important for infrastructure and connectivity to be reliable, and have the capacity to support district needs now and in the future.”

After receiving bids from five different service providers, WANRack emerged as the best choice after an E-Rate bid matrix scoring and “outstanding” references from projects of similar scope in other districts locally and across the country.

The company intends to construct a new fully underground, private fiber lit ring network that will provide CCSD21 with an extremely resilient and secure fiber network. Its design creates a network that will never have more than one site down at a time, and has fully diverse and redundant fiber paths to create maximum uptime and performance for students and staff.

The solution significantly reduces the monthly service cost that the district is currently paying with AT&T for WAN services. Monthly service payments will drop from $18,000 a month with AT&T to $7,500 a month with WANRack, which includes fixed pricing up to 50 gigabytes per second per site.

Speeds and bandwidth thresholds are currently at 10 Gbps, but the district through this contract could utilize any speed per site between 10 and 50 Gbps with no price increase. With the intended 90% E-Rate discount, monthly service costs would drop to $750 per month.

While the total cost for the project is estimated at approximately $3.65 million, the district qualifies to have 100% of the cost reimbursed through the typical E-Rate process, a matching grant from the state of Illinois (which the district is currently applying for), and E-Rate matching funds.

CCSD21 will still be required to pay about 5% of the total construction cost out of pocket, or about $182,664.90, in the spring of 2025, but will be fully reimbursed about 90 days after the project is completed.

The project is expected to take 12 months to complete, and would be ready to go live by July 2025.